Momentum grows for sports betting in North Carolina

RALEIGH, N.C. — There’s momentum building in Raleigh for sports betting in North Carolina. Experts say it is worth the gamble.

“It’s been eye-opening for me to really learn more about it,” state Sen. Jim Perry (R) of Lenoir said.

Perry is one of the most powerful Republicans in Raleigh, and admits he hasn’t always been on board with legalized sports betting; but now he sees its potential to generate tens of millions of dollars a year, helping communities like his without a tax increase.

“I owe an obligation to the people I represent, to really take a hard look and a fair look at any possible revenue source that helps keeps our taxes down,” he said.

His bill to allow sports betting has momentum and bipartisan support.

A spokesperson for Gov. Roy Cooper says Cooper is in favor of it.

“With the proper guardrails for sports betting in place, the state could benefit from the new jobs that will be created and the potential revenue which could be used to invest in education, health care and other priorities for North Carolinians,” spokesperson Mary Scott Winstead said.

The bill proposes an 8% tax on sports betting revenue. Senator Perry says the plan is for that money to go to education. Sports betting is already legal in Tennessee and Virginia, and it’s happening underground in North Carolina. Perry says once he showed some of his colleagues the loopholes some are going through to bet, they realized that North Carolina should get something out of this.

“I learned and I showed some of my colleagues that you can go online today and set up an offshore account or you can download an app. They were shocked,” he said. “So the question for me changed, and it ‘became should we regulate this?’”

Elon University Professor Bill Squadron says North Carolina is leaving money on the table. He says legalized sports betting can generate meaningful revenue for the Tar Heel state, and the timing is right to roll the dice.

“People now, whether it’s legal or illegal, bet on sports. People like to bet on sports. What we know is that it’s better to bring it out into the sunlight, regulate it, tax it, monitor it, and have it all instead of it all taking place underground,” Squadron said. “This should not be a partisan issue. This is honestly good for everyone. It generates revenue, it creates a new industry in the state.”

A spokesperson for Sen. Phil Berger said there is support and opposition in the Republican party on this issue.

“The issue has a number of supporters and detractors within the caucus,” spokesperson Pat Ryan said. “We’ll see if the bill sponsors can craft a proposal that most of the members can support.”

In addition to Perry, Senate Bill 688 is sponsored by Sen. Paul Rowe (D).

Perry says conversations are progressing and will continue. However, there is some opposition to this bill. Sen. Perry says his mom doesn’t even support it. One of the most common things he hears in opposition is a worry that it will foster addictions.

(Watch Below: Supreme Court makes sports betting a possibility nationwide)